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How To Impress The New CEO In Your First Meeting

Source | | Carmine Gallo

This week’s episode of CEO musical chairs saw three chief executives of major public companies sitting in new offices. ServiceNow CEO, John Donahoe, moves to Nike. SAP chief executive, Bill McDermott, moves to ServiceNow. And Under Armour’s COO, Patrik Frisk, succeeds chief executive and founder, Kevin Plank. 

They’ll be plenty of meetings as the leaders settle into their new positions. In many of those meetings, the new leaders will be getting to know the company’s senior executives, managers and employees. Although the CEO might not know much about an existing manager at the company, the managers have an advantage if they choose to use it—read everything the CEO has written. 

In a conversation with an audience of business students, Jamie Dimon, the CEO of JPMorgan Chase, once offered advice for anyone who gets the opportunity to interview for a job with Dimon or who wants to propose an idea. Some people walk into his office and “didn’t bother to read the Chairman’s letter that I wrote, which is thirty to forty pages long.” Reading an executive’s letter or book before you meet that person is “basic stuff,” Dimon added. 

I’m often reminded of Dimon’s observation when I speak at corporate conferences. I do my homework ahead of time, which always includes reading the CEO’s book if they have one. If not, I’ll find a book related to the company or the industry. If the CEO has written a book, I often quote from it. Lately, however, I’ve been stunned when I ask the audience for a show of hands—how many have read the book? I’m surprised because very few hands go up. I count two hands for every hundred people. 

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